What is Domestic Violence
What Causes Domestic Violence
Forms of Abuse
Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence
At Risk Populations


To understand what domestic violence is
To understand what causes domestic violence
To identify its various forms
To clarify some of the myths about domestic violence
To identify the most at-risk populations

What is Domestic Violence

For many people, “domestic violence” is an emotionally charged topic, laden with confusion and uncertainty. This is unfortunate, because domestic violence can be readily understood.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also known as spouse abuse, partner violence, intimate partner violence, battering, and numerous other terms) is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners. Domestic violence can occur in the context of dating, family or household relationships.

Patterns of behavior include elements of:
  • Control
  • Isolation
  • Threats
  • Violence
What causes domestic violence?

No one really knows. Research has shown that domestic violence has existed for thousands of years, and has been documented in nearly every national, religious and cultural group worldwide.

Domestic violence encompasses a constellation of controlling behaviors that include:
  • actual or threatened physical harm
  • psychological abuse
  • forced sexual contact
  • economic control
  • social isolation
  • destruction of a victim’s property, keepsakes or personal possessions
  • abuse of a victim’s animals/pets
  • misuse of divine beings and religious beliefs, practices, teachings, and traditions
  • asserting male superiority and attributing abusive behavior to cultural traditions

These behaviors can occur in any combination, sporadically or chronically, over a period of up to several decades. Most victims of domestic violence are women in heterosexual relationships. Men in heterosexual relations can also be victims of domestic violence, as well as both women and men in same-sex relationships.

Domestic violence is not about anger, drugs, alcohol, illness, genetics or biology, out-of-control behavior, stress, the victim’s behavior or actions, problems in the relationship, children, pets, Satan, other demons or evil influences. It’s generational—a learned behavior.

Domestic violence is a learned systematic behavior used to exert and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. And it is against the law.

Regardless of culture, race, religion, or socio-economic class, approximately 92% of all domestic violence incidents are crimes committed by men against women.1

Forms of Abuse

You Are Not Alone is a small devotional book, written by Covenant pastors and leaders to help a victim find clarity regarding the most commonly abused verses in Scripture.

Emotional Abuse:
  • withholding affection
  • extreme jealousy
  • insults
  • controlling a person’s every move
  • threats and intimidation
  • destruction of property
  • harming a person’s pets
  • taking advantage of or manipulating children
Sexual Abuse:
  • any unwanted sexual advance or contact, from kissing to intercourse
  • any unwelcome sexual comments
  • forced sexual intercourse between two people who know each other
Economic Abuse:
  • keeping control over the expenditure of household income
  • denying financial access
Spiritual Abuse:
  • use of scripture to manipulate or control
  • use of scripture to oppress
Physical Abuse:
  • shoving
  • slapping
  • pulling
  • grabbing
  • punching
  • hitting
  • biting
  • spitting

Myths and Facts About Domestic Violence

One’s understanding of male headship can include the misuse of power to maintain rights and privileges. Physically or emotionally harming a fellow human being is never justified. Sadly, religion is NOT a deterrent…there is just as much abuse (spousal, child and sexual) in Christian homes as in non-Christian homes.2 The following text was taken from Kay Lieberknecht’s Working with the Battered Woman, and the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups.

Myth: Battering is a private family matter.
Fact: Domestic violence is a public matter. No act that can leave a person permanently injured (physically or mentally) or result in their death is a “family matter.” A domestic assault is a crime; marital rape is also a crime, regardless of the relationship between the people. Arguing in such cases that the “privacy” of the family must be maintained can mean injury, death, or virtual imprisonment to many battered men and women.

Myth: Battering is restricted to poorly educated families from lower socio-economic classes.
Fact: Studies show that women of all ethnic groups, lifestyles, socioeconomic classes, and educational levels are beaten with relatively equal frequency.

Myth: It is a man’s right and duty to head the family, so he can do whatever is necessary to keep his wife in line.
Fact: There is no essential difference between men and women that indicates one sex should have more rights, responsibilities and power than the other. Every person in a family needs autonomy and an equal share in family matters. Beatings are never justified.

At Risk Populations

Following are some of the high risk groups for domestic violence:

  • Pregnant women – there is a high instance of domestic violence in this population
  • Immigrants – communication barriers, fear of becoming homeless, losing children or deportation create additional obstacles in getting services to protect their safety
  • Substance abusers
  • Teenagers
  • Children exposed to domestic violence


1. Violence Against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, January, 1994.
2. Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark, “When Terror Strikes the Christian Home;” Keynote Address at The Awakening Conference, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; 10/07/2006.